Our trip to Ecuador

We packed our bags and woke up super early to catch a morning flight. I can still recall the kid's excitement when we told them we were going to Ecuador to visit abuelo Jacinto and the entire family there. It has been too long since our last trip to my native country of Ecuador.

It was a very emotional moment when the kids first saw their great grandparents and family members. We were welcomed with balloons, big smiles, hugs and kisses (very much latino style). The kids were enjoying all the extra attention, "aw, that's so nice I like my balloon! Is that for me?!" Mark Jacinto exclaimed. Dominika was taking a few minutes to warm up to the new crowd.

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It was a very special encounter when Mark Jacinto met his grandfather Jacinto. I named my son after my superhero grandfather, who was really a father to me. I cannot thank him enough for all of his love and support growing up.

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We arrived at night, hugged a million times, chatted a lot,  shared some gifts and went to bed from a long day of travel. Our hearts  were full!

My grandmother Carmen and I. She is my princess, we share so many things in common!! Including birthday!!

My grandmother Carmen and I. She is my princess, we share so many things in common!! Including birthday!!

So pretty much the best guayaco breakfast ever El Café de Tere in Guayaquil, Ecuador. My favorite thing to eat and drink there are the bolones and freshly squeezed juice. Everything there is absolutely delicious with a home sort of taste. A very popular dish there is the plantain based dish called Tigrillo. 

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It felt so special eating as a family and reminiscing over funny stories. My grandma and mother laugh a lot; they always find something to laugh about. It was great seeing my uncle and my beloved brother.

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Satisfied tummies ready for adventure. This kind of breakfast really sets you up for a great day, no matter what comes your way (or so it feels).

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We had many beautiful moments together as a family. My husband Mark Walter, the coffee lover, found this awesome coffee shop called Ludica in Guayaquil; the only place at the moment where you can get superb quality drip coffee. Needless to say, we were there a couple times. 

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I thought this photo above was so especial, we get to live in such a wonderful place: Brooklyn, New York. 

Reading to Michael Junior, we miss him so much. He's such a beautiful and bright child. God bless him.

Reading to Michael Junior, we miss him so much. He's such a beautiful and bright child. God bless him.

Best pumpkin spice latte ever. Ever. 

Best pumpkin spice latte ever. Ever. 

One of the places we explored was a vegan place with all natural and whole organic ingredients. The name of the place is Camellias.

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So when Mark Walter and I met for the first time, he was with his good buddy Cesar Andres. I remember those days of immaturity and and just plain naiveté; it was 10 years ago!!! He has a girlfriend now, she's such a nice woman we had some pretty rad conversations about business and domestic manufacturing of products. I didn't know all the amazing details that go into grocery store chains nationwide.

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My brother with Mark Jacinto; they melt my heart. The desserts there tasted great while at the same time being good for you. It was a win win.

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A little someone enjoyed a little much ;-)

He wanted to take them all home so grandma and grandpa can taste it, haha.

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I got to have a little sewing lesson. Over the years I have made Dominika some garments and have sown some clothing for myself. I'm very interested in learning about the art and thought why not learn a little technique here. Lolita, the lady that made my wedding dress is an absolute master. The woman is seriously gifted, so gifted in fact, that didn't need any special tools to make a pattern. With a tiny ruler she worked her magic.

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Endearing to me indeed was when Mark Jacinto helped grandmother Carmen make freshly squeezed juice. He was so excited to help! I felt so proud of him for wanting to help anytime he could. Needless to say, he made it through the entire batch of oranges. Great job son!

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The objective of our trip was to bond and be close to each other. We ate parrillada together.

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Took Dominika and Mark to Riocentro to a little children's museum, so fun!

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The boys went to mini golf and Dominika gave us a private concert at the museum.

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We shared many wonderful moments together. I think grandfather really liked the coffee because he asked for a business card. I suggested it would be a good place to meet with clients( he's an amazing entrepreneur and many more things)

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Ludica had pies, cookies and specialty quiches that were oh so good. I still remember;-)

Abuela carmen and Dominika.

Abuela carmen and Dominika.

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But my favorite memories hands down were right at the home. When the kids danced with their little cousin, when they played and ate together; the little things you know.

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Also, in my opinion nothing beats grandma's homemade cooking. Her rendition of Ecuadorean food is brilliant.

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El Español has a soft spot in my heart because when papi and I were dating, we used to go there a lot. There was one close by the music school I attended  and their imported cheeses are so delicious.

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Ok, so do you spot the elder gentleman on the right? He randomly came up to me and sang Opera, told me about his wonderful adventures in Italy with Pavarotti and his long career as a tenor. This world can be so random sometimes, he was a character for sure.

A sweet spot we found for the kids to paint in a local mall.

A sweet spot we found for the kids to paint in a local mall.

Bolones and bistec de hígado. A staple growing up along with fresh juice. 

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My mom got the kids craft supplies and started making little play dough sculptures with them, that meant so much! The kids really enjoyed it.

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Sorbetto has a great tiramisu gelato that my hubby is such a fan of, we took the entire family after dinner.

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Ludica again ;-)

guapo!

guapo!

My mommy and I, such sweet times. 

My mommy and I, such sweet times. 

When I'm around family and very close friends I get giddy and spontaneity takes over me. I asked the barista for a chance to make the coffee myself and he said yes.

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We took the kids to a kidz zone kind of like a chuck a cheese, I dont know if I enjoyed my family's facial expressions or the kids.

Ceviche de camarón, fried plaintain chips and fresh orange juice, oh yes!

Ceviche de camarón, fried plaintain chips and fresh orange juice, oh yes!

Grandfather had fallen totally in love with Dominika, his face says it all I think. I treasure this.

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We had so many amazing meals there, above Llapingacho one of my childhood favorites. Mark Jacinto loved the veggie soup.

We had so many amazing meals there, above Llapingacho one of my childhood favorites. Mark Jacinto loved the veggie soup.

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We went bowling, needless to say Mark jacinto was very much into it. I think he got that from the Kropf side;-)

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When she is with her daddy, she transforms. She cannot help herself but be goofy and spontaneous. I get you Dominika, the guy is pretty charming.

Grandpa brought us fresh coconuts. I think Dominika was astounded to see were coconut water comes from.

Grandpa brought us fresh coconuts. I think Dominika was astounded to see were coconut water comes from.

I have so many pictures that I might share in the future but for now I just wanted to post these special memories in Ecuador together. Dominika dazzled everyone with her fluent Spanish while Mark Jacinto impressed with his awesome manners. They adapted so well and so fast to the culture that my family was astounded. We had so much fun getting to enjoy this precious time with my family there. 

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Grateful.